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N2.5Bn DSO Allegation: Our Story By Pinnacle Communications

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Pinnacle Communications Limited, the private licensed signal distributor for the Federal Government’s approved implementation of the Transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT) Broadcasting in Nigeria, has absolved the firm of alleged complicity and misapplication of money meant for the implementation of the digital switch-over (DSO) project.

The management of the company in a statement issued over the weekend, dismissed as untrue, false and unsubstantiated the media reports linking it with the allegation that N2.5 billion seed grant released to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) for the project had been misapplied. The Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC) was reported s investigating the allegation.

In the statement by Dipo Onifade, chief operating officer, Pinnacle Communications stated that the firm has always been transparent in all its dealings with the NBC and it has discharged its obligations on the digital switch-over project in compliance with the terms and conditions of the contract.

A statement by the company read:

ICPC Investigates NBC, DSO :
Statement by Pinnacle Communications Limited

The Management of Pinnacle Communications Limited is constrained to issue this statement as a matter of record in response to the flurry of news reports in the media on Thursday evening copiously quoting  a statement allegedly attributed to the spokesperson of the Independent Corrupt Practices and Other Related Offences Commission (ICPC), Rasheedat Okoduwa disclosing that the Commission was investigating the Nigerian Broadcasting Commission over the “misapplication of N2.5 billion seed grant released to the agency by the federal government for its digital switch-over programme” for which the Commission has so far quizzed the Director General, Dr. Ishaq Moddibbo Kawu, and other top management staff of the agency over their alleged involvements in the misapplication of the fund”.

 

In view of the references made to Pinnacle Communications Limited in connection with the investigation and the necessity of providing the correct account of the involvement of Pinnacle Communications Limited in the issues raised, which were deliberately omitted  and/or distorted in the ICPC spokesperson’s alleged statement as widely reported in the media, we hereby state as follows:

 

  1. Pinnacle Communications Limited is the only private licensed signal distributor for the Federal Government approved implementation of the Transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television Broadcasting in Nigeria in accordance with the 2012 Government White Paper section 11.2 (a) which approved that “more than one signal distributor be licensed in addition to NTA, the public licensed signal distributor. Another signal distributor should be licensed immediately.”

 

  1. In the year 2014, Pinnacle Communications Limited emerged successful bidder out of 9 companies after a rigorous public tender and full compliance with due process. Pinnacle Communications was licensed following payment of the stipulated license fees to the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC), NOT NIGERIAN BROADCASTING CORPORATION as stated in the alleged press release of ICPC spokesperson.

 

  1. Since then, Pinnacle Communications Limited has been a major facilitator of the Digital Switch Over (DSO) implementation process in Nigeria, notably as the broadcast signal distributor for the National Launch of the DSO in Abuja in 2016 at its state-of-the-art Broadcast Centre on Mpape Hill, performed by His Excellency, Yemi Osinbajo, Vice President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria. The Company was also responsible for the Kaduna Digital Broadcast Signal Distribution Centre commissioned in 2017 by the Kaduna State Governor, His Excellency, Nasir Ahmed El-Rufai.

 

  1. This factual background to the involvement of Pinnacle Communications Limited in the DSO project in Nigeria is contrary to the alleged statements attributed to the ICPC spokesperson that the company was “fraudulently recommended to the Minister of Information and Culture for the release of N2.5 billion against the guidelines contained in the White Paper” and further reference to Pinnacle Communications as “an unqualified company.” The 2014 licensing of Pinnacle Communications in the DSO predates the appointment of the current DG of NBC in 2016.

 

  1. The DSO is all about the transition from Analogue to Digital Terrestrial Television (DTT).

Broadcast Engineering is a field in which Pinnacle Communications Limited has earned recognition and patronage for more than two decades of expertise and dependability of world class service and installations across Nigeria.

 

  1. Neither the DSO nor Pinnacle Communications Limited has anything to do with “migration of telephone lines from analogue to digital platforms” as the ICPC spokesperson is alleged to have stated.

 

  1. Pinnacle Communications maintain that the facts and clarifications provided above sufficiently define the context and extent of its involvement in the implementation of the DSO program in Nigeria and the nature of its working relationship with the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC).

 

  1. While noting that the ICPC spokesperson allegedly stated that the Commission was investigating “misapplication of N2.5 billion seed grant released to the agency (NBC) by the federal government for its digital switch-over programme” we wish to clearly emphasize that Pinnacle Communications Limited has not and cannot as a licensee of NBC trespass into the statutory functions of the NBC and/or the Federal Ministry of Information on the implementation of the DSO program.

 

  1. To this extent therefore, all transactions between NBC and Pinnacle Communications have always been transparent and within the official approved operational guidelines and regulations as processed and executed by the NBC and in compliance with the terms and conditions of the license for signal distribution that Pinnacle Communications duly obtained.

 

  1. Having made all the necessary statements in response to the ICPC’s investigations and taking cognisance of the pendency of Suit No FHC/ABJ/CS/779/2018 that Pinnacle Communications instituted in July 2018 in the Federal High Court, Abuja on a related matter against ICPC and 2 others,(NOT RELATED TO STOPPING ANY INVESTIGATION BY ICPC) Pinnacle Communications considers it unprofessional, ill-advised, injudicious, prejudicial and unfair for the ICPC spokesperson to make as alleged random references to disjointed portions of comprehensive submissions to its investigators, clearly skewed to portray Pinnacle Communications Limited as complicit in the alleged or any misapplication” of funds by the NBC, over which Pinnacle Communications have no responsibility or control. Pinnacle Communications challenges the ICPC spokesperson, if the alleged press release was indeed made by her, to publish the full statements made to the ICPC by Pinnacle officials.

 

  1. Moreover, if truly made, the ICPC statement went beyond mere announcement of on-going investigations into the realm of unsubstantiated incriminations in the fashion of trial-by-media that invariably paints a premature and amateur picture of guilt, prior to judicial determination.

   

  1. In the circumstance, Pinnacle Communications Limited shall refrain from further clarification of the muddled statement allegedly issued by the ICPC spokesperson in its firm belief that judicial process will provide the appropriate and fair opportunity to comprehensively and decisively prove its hard-earned reputation as a world class company that, unlike the ICPC spokesperson, upholds integrity, ethics and legality in all its transactions, in accordance with international best practices.
  2. Pinnacle Communications wishes to assure NBC, stakeholders in the DSO, its staff, international and local business associates and numerous clients that it remains committed to meeting all its obligations notwithstanding the malicious statement by the ICPC spokesperson.

DIPO ONIFADE

COO

PINNACLE COMMUNICATIONS LIMITED

 

 


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Nigeria’s Public Debt Now N121trn – DMO

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Debt Management Office (DMO) says Nigeria’s total public debt has reached N121.67 trillion within three months.

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The Cable reports that this figure represents an increase of N24.33 trillion or 24.99 percent from the N97.34 trillion as of December 2023.

Nigeria’s public debt profile consists of the federal and subnational governments’ domestic and external debt stocks — the 36 states and the federal capital territory (FCT).

According to the DMO, the increase was primarily due to new domestic borrowing by the federal government to partly fund the deficit in the 2024 budget as well as disbursements by multilateral and bilateral lenders.

“Total domestic debt was N65.65 trillion (USD46.29 billion) while total external debt was N56.02 trillion (USD42.12 billion). Excluding naira exchange rate movements in Q1 2024, only the domestic debt component of total public debt grew from N59.12 trillion on December 31, 2023, to N65.65 trillion on March 31, 2024.

“The increase was from new borrowing to part-finance the 2024 Budget deficit and securitization of a portion of the N7.3 trillion Ways and Means Advances at the Central Bank of Nigeria.

Whilst borrowing, as provided in the 2024 Appropriation Act, will continue, we expect improvements in the government’s revenue to enhance debt sustainability.”

On June 13, the Minister of Finance and Coordinating Minister of the Economy, Wale Edun, announced the approval of two major “financial support packages” by the World Bank — valued at $2.25 billion. In May, the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) said the federal government has secured a $500m World Bank loan to boost electricity distribution in the country.

Prior to this, the federal government had received $750 million from the World Bank for humanitarian and social reforms and $1.5 billion for its economic stabilisation plan.


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Icasa Orders Shutdown of StarSat, StarTimes SA Arm over License Controversy

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Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) has declined to renew the license of On Digital Media, the operator behind StarSat, the South African branch of StarTimes Media.

Icasa Orders Shutdown of StarSat, StarTimes SA Arm over License Controversy

The decision, communicated in a letter to On Digital Media, mandates the company to cease operations by September 18, 2024, leaving the reasons for this decision and the steps required to secure a new license unclear.

Despite the shutdown order, Debbie Wu, CEO,  StarSat assured that the company will not be closing its operations anytime soon and is actively liaising with Icasa to find a resolution.

“We can assure you and the public that On Digital Media/StarSat will not be closing its operations anytime soon” Debbie Wu, CEO, On Digital Media.

“There’s been no notice to staff and StarTimes is still selling StarSat decoders to new customers,” an insider told TVwithThinus.

Reports that Icasa hadn’t renewed StarSat’s licence surfaced in early June 2024.

Icasa claimed it had sent a letter in mid-March to Wu and Ronald Reddy, general manager for legal, risk, and compliance, On Digital Media indicating it may issue a statement to inform subscribers, content providers, and financial stakeholders about the shutdown.

“Take note that Icasa may publish a notice on its website and/or in the Government Gazette advising affected subscribers, content providers and stakeholders about the winding up of ODM’s broadcasting services“, the regulator said.

Icasa clarified that it does not have the mandate to consider transfer or renewal applications for expired licenses and instructed On Digital Media to share its plan for notifying subscribers, content providers and stakeholders about the service cessation.

Wu stated that the company is exploring all regulatory and legal issues surrounding its licensing and reiterated that StarSat will continue its operations for the foreseeable future.

“Should such an event materialise, which we doubt will happen, we will respect our obligation in terms of the law to notify all interested parties,” Debbie Wu said, according to TVwithThinus.

 


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Climate Action Africa Reinforces Africa’s Urgency for Climate Change @CAAF24 Event in Lagos

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Climate Action Africa Forum 24 (CAAF24) held in Lagos, Nigeria marked a pivotal moment in the global effort to address climate change, organized by Climate Action Africa (CAA), a leading environmental advocate in Africa. CAAF24 aims to galvanize action and underscore the urgent need for climate action across industries and communities across Africa.

The event, held at the prestigious Landmark Center, brought together a diverse array of stakeholders including government officials, business leaders, academics, civil society representatives and the media.

The theme of this year’s forum, “Green Economies, Brighter Futures,” highlights the imperative for immediate and collective action in mitigating the effects of climate change in Africa and achieving global sustainability goals.

“CAAF24 serves as a critical platform for dialogue and collaboration,” said Grace Oluchi Mbah, Co-Founder and Executive Director of CAA.

“With the event, we aim to increase education and awareness on climate change, showcase innovations and projects driving Africa to a sustainable future, and more actively contribute to the expansion of Africa’s green economy.”

The program featured addresses from Her Excellency, Madame Ramatoulaye Diallo Ndiaye, Former Minister of Culture Mali and Founder and CEO of the Great Green Wall of Africa (GGWoA) Foundation who was the special keynote speaker.

There were breakout sessions for panel discussions and workshops that focused on key issues such as the potential of forests and carbon credits, climate financing, Nigeria’s carbon market activation, mobilizing private capital for climate-positive investments in Africa, building resilient and livable African Cities and more. Sessions were designed to encourage interactive participation and exchange of ideas among participants from diverse backgrounds and sectors.

In addition to formal sessions, CAAF24 included networking opportunities and showcased the selection of outstanding innovations from over 800 registerations through the Deal Room, a platform that connected high-impact climate innovators in Africa with potential investors seeking to accelerate sustainable solutions.

Other highlights at CAAF24 were the audacious launch of the Billion Trees for Africa Initiative as part of CAA’s community programs and the unveiling of the Pan-African Green Economy Program (PAGE), a partnership with IDEA AFRICA and the Founder Institute that seeks to grow a new generation of 5,000 green innovators across Africa by 2035.

The selection of Omoniyi Praise (1st position), Treasure Nwosu (2nd position) and Alabi Abimbola (3rd position) as winners for the Climate Champion Quest organised by STEAM Funfest also stood out at CAAF24.

As Africa faces increasingly severe climate impacts, CAAF24 is a platform that is committed to unifying the participation of diverse stakeholders in advancing and achieving climate action in Africa. By reinforcing the urgency of climate change through meaningful dialogue and collaboration, CAAF24 inspires concrete steps towards a more sustainable and equitable future for all.


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